Prehistoric linear boundary known as Snainton Dikes, 740m east of Ebberston Common House


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1020299

Date first listed: 01-Aug-1974

Date of most recent amendment: 09-May-2001


Ordnance survey map of Prehistoric linear boundary known as Snainton Dikes, 740m east of Ebberston Common House
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: North Yorkshire

District: Ryedale (District Authority)

Parish: Ebberston and Yedingham

County: North Yorkshire

District: Scarborough (District Authority)

Parish: Darncombe-cum-Langdale End


National Grid Reference: SE 90750 89138


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

Linear boundaries are substantial earthwork features comprising single or multiple ditches and banks which may extend over distances varying between less than 1km to over 10km. They survive as earthworks or as linear features visible as cropmarks on aerial photographs or as a combination of both. The evidence of excavation and study of associated monuments demonstrate that their construction spans the millennium from the Middle Bronze Age, although they may have been re-used later. The scale of many linear boundaries has been taken to indicate that they were constructed by large social groups and were used to mark important boundaries in the landscape; their impressive scale displaying the corporate prestige of their builders. They would have been powerful symbols, often with religious associations, used to define and order the territorial holdings of those groups who constructed them. Linear earthworks are of considerable importance for the analysis of settlement and land use in the Bronze Age; all well preserved examples will normally merit statutory protection.

Despite limited disturbance, the prehistoric linear boundary known as Snainton Dikes, 740m east of Ebberston Common House, is in a good state of preservation. Important environmental evidence which can be used to date the boundary and determine contemporary land use will be preserved within the lowest ditch fills. Evidence for earlier land use will be preserved in the old ground surface beneath the banks. The eastern Tabular Hills is an area which has many networks of prehistoric land boundaries. These are thought to represent systems of territorial land division which were constructed to augment natural divisions of the landscape by river valleys and watersheds. The Dalby Forest and Scamridge areas have a particular concentration which is thought to have originated in the Late Neolithic or Early Bronze Age, earlier than most other prehistoric boundary systems on the Tabular Hills. The networks within this concentration, and many of their component boundaries, are notably complex and are of considerable importance for understanding the development of later prehistoric society in eastern Yorkshire. The Snainton Dikes are part of the system of boundaries dividing the area between Troutsdale in the south and the scarp edge of the Tabular Hills in the north. It lies close to a complex of pit alignments which comprise the earliest boundaries in this area. The relationships of the Snainton Dikes with these boundaries and with the burial monuments in the landscape surrounding them are important for understanding the chronological development of land division during the later prehistoric period.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument includes a linear boundary which is situated on a west-facing slope running between the valleys of Deep Dale and Troutsdale, towards the northern scarp edge of the Tabular Hills. The linear boundary runs from the head of Rosekirk Dale in the south to Little Stubby Head in the north, in a SSW to NNE direction, turning more to the north at the northern end. It consists of two parallel steep-sided ditches which run between two banks of earth and stone and are separated by a third bank. Together the earthworks have an overall width of 20m-24m. For the last 30m at both ends the boundary has only a single ditch and bank, which has an overall width of 6m. The single ditch and bank continue the western ditch and the western outer bank and turn slightly towards the west, ending at the top of the steep edge of the valley at the north and at the bottom of the valley head at the south. The ditches are 3m-4m wide and the outer banks are 3m-5m wide. For most of its length the central bank is 7m-8m wide, but it narrows to 4m at either end where there is a gap of 3m-5m between the western edge of the bank and the eastern edge of the western ditch. The western ditch is up to 2.5m deep and the eastern ditch is up to 1.5m deep, measured from the tops of the banks. The western bank stands up to 1.2m high and the eastern bank stands up to 0.6m high, although for much of its length it has been partly levelled by forestry activities and is no more than 0.3m high. The central bank stands up to 0.9m high above the level area between its western edge and the western ditch. Running along the top of the central bank, for the southern half of the boundary, there is a turf wall which has a width of 1m and stands up to 0.8m high. This is post-medieval and marks the boundary between the parishes of Ebberston and Snainton. There are a number of modern breaks in the boundary. In the northern half there are two sand and gravel quarries which have truncated the western bank and outer ditch and adjacent to them there are disused trackways which cross the earthworks. In the southern half, a forestry track crosses the boundary from WSW to ENE. The monument forms part of a network of prehistoric linear boundaries which are surrounded by many other prehistoric monuments, particularly burials. The surface of the forestry track, and all fence posts are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 34679

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Northern Archaeological Associates, , North York Moors Forest Survey Phase Two, (1996)
Spratt, D A, Linear Earthworks of the Tabular Hills: North East Yorkshire, (1989), 50-51
English Heritage, Prehistoric embanked pit alignments on Ebberston Low Moor, (1999)

End of official listing